Crowning Achievements

Kayla Willing seeks her second consecutive pageant title as the recent high school graduates competes in Miss Maryland

Story by Alison Pappas  |  Photo by Robert Holland

For recent Holly Grove Christian School graduate Kayla Willing, summer is especially eventful.
She is currently fulfilling her community role as Miss Crustacean, a title she won at her first pageant appearance, while preparing for the Miss Maryland competition.

I never really considered myself a traditional pageant girl, but I had a friend talk me into applying to compete for Miss Crustacean. Once I had filled out all the paperwork and was officially signed up, I was all in and worked very hard,” shared Kayla.

While there are swimsuit and evening-gown portions of the pageant, the most heavily weighted segment is the interview. Because Kayla is quite articulate, especially for her age, and she has a natural ease onstage from her background in theatre club and debate club, it was no surprise that she excelled throughout the interview.

“The judges asked questions regarding my résumé, particularly about my interest in clinical counseling. I used this platform to speak about my passions and talk about ethical dilemmas within the justice system,” said Kayla.

After capturing the title of Miss Crustacean, Kayla set her sights on a new title: Miss Maryland 2021. “After receiving the crown, I found out that this was the first year the Miss Crustacean pageant would be considered a preliminary for the Miss Maryland pageant. I immediately had to switch gears and begin preparing for this next challenge,” shared Kayla.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, the Miss Maryland pageant is operating half virtually, via Zoom, and half in person, in Hagerstown. Kayla had to adapt to the virtual portion’s unique challenges, so she has enlisted the help of a technical-support team made up of friends and family, to ensure the lighting, audio and staging go smoothly.

Kayla has also started taking voice and dance lessons, as well as adhering to a gym schedule to prepare for the competition. She has selected musical theater as her talent, and in just four days learned a new routine specifically for the pageant.

If Kayla is crowned Miss Maryland, she will go on to compete in the Miss America pageant.

Kayla will be attending Lancaster Bible College this fall. She was recruited to join the college’s field hockey team; she was also accepted into the clinical counseling program.